Fifth Sunday in Lent

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I was reading a good book Chasing Charlie by C. M. Newman last week. It’s an engaging story about dealing with second chances. The story begins with Vince, the single parent of 3 year old Charlie being seriously wounded. Against the odds, he survives and goes back to his life as a workaholic FBI agent. With a fast forward to three years later, Vince is informed he has stage four pancreatic cancer and is given six to eight months to live. He has been a good man, but now he comes to realize that hasn’t been enough. Realizing he has blown most of his second chance at life already, he sets about trying to make the best of the little time he has left. Vince isn’t the only one who is affected by this life changing event. The people around him are drawn into it as well.
In today’s Gospel, Lazarus, a righteous man, is given a second chance at life. I wonder how that realization changed him. Did he discover that being basically a good person isn’t enough? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I can’t help but believe it had to have made a difference. Did he devote the rest of his time on earth to his family, or to serving his community? I can’t imagine him continuing to put his business affairs first. Did he choose to believe in Jesus as the Son of the living God with the same intensity that Mary and Martha had displayed earlier? How did he share his newly enriched faith with others? I wonder what I would have done if I had been him, or if I had been one of his sisters, Martha or Mary. I wonder how his Jewish community continued to react once they recovered from the initial shock.
This is the fifth Sunday of Lent, just two short weeks before Easter. Today I have the chance to look back at how I’ve spent this preparation time. Lent is supposed to be a time for us to look at how we’re doing with our own second chance at eternal life that we gained through baptism. It is a time for attending to our spiritual “bucket list.” So I ask myself, how have I used this time to give to give alms, to serve others? Have I used it to deepen and enrich my own faith through prayer and meditation? Oops – there is that little booklet of Lenten meditations I picked up at the back of the church – I don’t think I made it much beyond the first week. I know my intentions were good, but I didn’t follow through the way I would have liked to have. If I’m not content with my behavior, why should I expect God to be? I need to take this as another second chance – thankfully God’s supply of those lasts until I run out of time. To modify an old cliché, today is the first day of the rest of my second chance. It’s up to me as to how I use it.

Linda Crowley